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The last few weeks have been filled with absolute excitement - and a bit of euphoria. The day I flew in I arrived at 7am London-time and was successful in staying up the whole day even though it was 1am on my body. I was uber-productive in unpacking, settling in to my gorgeous triple-room boasting a fireplace, streetview window, desk, closet, and bed. I bought a cell phone and plan (the cheapest of course), bedding, and the boring necessities. The first days were full of these nominal tasks in between orientation meetings from our study abroad coordinators. I learned so much about the differences between America and London that I should be aware of - (politically, socially, etc.) It was interesting to be thrown in to a culture I had assumed was quite like my own, but really has a unique character.
Back to the details -- I am living in a huge mansion with four floors of bedrooms and several shared bathrooms. My "flat mates" consist of 25 eclectic Americans from all over, West coast to East. I am one of two from Chicago. So far, I love everyone_ we have a great camaraderie and have had a blast getting to know eachother at all the local pubs getting "pissed" (drunk). Our blue-doored mansion lies on a quaint street in the heart of Notting Hill, the posh, trendy, and fashion-forward neighborhood of London. The area is adorable and has a massive market on Portobello street once a week... I can't get enough!
With part of the gang at our favorite spot down the street, 'Tex Mex'; me in front of my flat
I am, strange to say, already beginning to feel like a 'Londoner'. I can navigate the Tube getting to and from class with ease, am getting used to the Pounds instead of Dollars, am learning the beers, and have picked up on some slang. I feel llike Europeans have it right on certain things -- entertainment, politics, the media system (which relys on viewers as the money-maker, not advertising), drinking norms (can you say "pub at noon?"), and fashion. One thing they definitely get WRONG is food! God it's just so bland; nothing compared to the states.
On a more boring note, I am here for class afterall. I only have 4 classes, 3 hours a week each, and on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays. My goal is to truly take advantage of the 4-day weekends by exploring London and mostly traveling to the many Euro-cities calling my name. My classes are Globalisation/Regionalisation, London in Literature (LOVE my professor who takes us to pubs to discuss books!), Theatre in London (I get to see broadway shows all the time!), and British Media. I like them all and am sure I'll be fine, as long as I force myself to squeeze in time for studies in between travelling.
Since being here, I have explored Notting Hill, walked the lush Kensington Gardens several times, been to many-a-PUB and CLUB in Piccadilly Circus, gone to the Theatre, explored my "Uni" campus, been to the movies (the popcorn lacks flavor), rode the London Eye, and stared at Big Ben! I have explored Westminster Abbey, Portobello Market, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and the many museums. It's safe to say I'm on a London high... or maybe it's all the day-drinking at the pub... Cheers!
I literally just boarded the plane. It's large, and a bit more opulent than my more recent flights. I have a window seat on the left - next to a rather figgity man who seems to have 'flight phobia'. (My seat is 25A). I can hear British accents chattering all around me, as I did for the first time of the trip while waiting at Gate C19 for the last two hours. I can't believe this day is finally here!
My emotions have gone from stressed due to packing issues, incredibly sad and heart-wrenching to leave Tom, my parents, and friends -- to now pure excitement, anticipation, and fear of what's to happen next.
When I arrive, I expect to meet tons of new faces, see the beautiful city where I will be residing for the next four months, and learn all about the university, the people, culture, food, and overall differences in the way of life in the UK vs. US.
Although I am overcome by sadness every time I think about Tom and how hard it will be to be apart for so long, my goal in Europe remains the same. I want to embrace every moment, learn as much as possible, adapt to a culture completely unlike my own, and grow as a person.
I know the semester will fly by in the blink of an eye and I'll be back on a plane coming home for Christmas-time in Chicago before I know it -- so I plan to experience as much as possible and enjoy every opportunity overseas!
People always say, “Life’s too short”, but they don’t do anything about it. At age 24, I know I want to taste all manner in life and live it to the fullest. I am a "normal" girl in many ways, surrounded by normalcy in life. Chicago-born, I was blessed with opportunities to "vacation" in almost every US state as well as the Caribbean, Mexico, and Bahamas. In addition to the great vacationing my family has blessed me with, I have still possessed more… an inner need to TRAVEL. I want to see and do everything humanely possible, while maintaining a steady and grounded life. I have found that many in the United States do not possess such a desire to embrace cultures unknown, rather they are complacent with their everyday lives of work and play.
Well personally, my “travel itch” needed some desperate scratching two years back, so I decided to (somewhat spontaneously) leave my College town seeking true adventure. Thus, in the Fall of 2008, I ventured to Europe for 4 months to study abroad where I experienced London, Scotland, Barcelona, Dublin, the Scottish and UK highlands, Paris, Rome, Venice, Prague, Berlin, and Switzerland. It was AMAZING and life-changing to say the least.
I have since graduated from the University of Illinois in May of 2009 and have had just over two years experience the workplace in corporate America. I have every day pleasures which keep me endlessly happy, but still get that inevitable "travel itch" every few months. I have since ventured to Australia where I explored Melbourne, Sydney, and the Whitsunday Islands. A year later I flew solo to India where I travelled through six cities in just over two weeks. Throughout the year, I travel nationally a bit here and there, and enjoy my life day by day in Chicago.
I discovered the wonderful world of travel-blogging a little over a year ago; I was immediately hooked. I became obsessed with following complete strangers living out their dreams and traveling the world. I consistently read blogs, look at endless amounts of photos, and learn more about the world than I ever have, through the eyes of others just like myself. While I won’t be doing a full-out year or 18 month Round-The-World trip, I'd like to think I am doing the trip in segments here and there. I dream of a place, save up, plan my trip for weeks, and GO.
The stories in my Blog are of both international and national trips, complete with photographs, anecdotes, and sometimes videos. They begin on my flight to London in September 2008, (at the lovely age of 21), where I began my journal of experiences. I have my most cherished possesion, a hand-written book of writings and scraps from all of my travels, which is what I hope to transport into the virtual world here. My goal is to share my experiences with friends, family, and hopefully strangers like myself. I hope people enjoy my blog and are not only entertained but maybe even inspired to follow their dreams.
After all, life’s too short...